Jean-Marie Bonthous, Seamless Social
Marketing teams in B2B are different from marketing teams in B2C. In B2C, you mostly find employees who studied marketing, have worked in marketing for other brands, and have the marketing knowledge needed to run a B2C marketing department. In B2B, you often meet marketers who came from engineering, product development or sales. They lack formal marketing education and experience and rely on their in-depth experience of the industry and products.
If you ask them to show you their marketing plans, they will often describe their current or recent campaign. Much of their energy is spent reacting to shifts in market trends, bursts in competitive pressure
This has worked until now, as there was across the entire B2B sector, with exception of software industries, a deficiency in marketing skills. But the marketing skills landscape is changing rapidly, let by new, effective and affordable technologies like lead scoring, nurturing and recycling, inbound marketing, marketing automation and of course industry data mining. Suddenly, B2B marketers are invited to have a place at the revenue generation table. To rise to this new challenge, they need to brush up their skills.
1) Make time for marketing strategy
While much B2B marketing has been until now ad hoc and reactive, now is the time to have clear revenue generation objectives where marketing will demonstrate accountability. And a clear plan, with the “why this approach, how we will go about it, when we will do it, what it will cost, and what it will bring, who will be accountable, and what the milestones are.”
2) Plan marketing initiatives that are more than reactions
Gone are the times where it was possible to keep growing revenues by just adjusting the course to catch up with competitive moves. There is a need to constantly plan to outsmart, outperform and leapfrog the competition. The intensity of competitive rivalry has grown dramatically in the last 2 years, and will continue to increase
3) Commit to continuous, not intermittent, measurable progress
Until now,. B2B marketing often grew in spurts: marketers would plan a campaign, create some materials and wait for the results to have dissipated to have manifested to think about what to do next. These times are gone. Just like when playing chess, there is a need now to plan several moves ahead. Not only do marketers need to have the upcoming campaign designed, but also scenarios for future campaigns down the line.
4) When mistakes are made, commit to never making them again
Learning from mistakes again and again was a normal way of working in B2B marketing. Mistakes would be made, again and again. The number of marketing mistakes that can be made is infinite, and there are endless ways and many excuses to repeat them and make them differently each time. While failing is a great school to learn, the same mistakes cannot be made twice anymore, the competitive pressures just don’t allow for it anymore. There is a need to get to the root causes of mistakes, take corrective action, as painful as it may be, and move forward on a different footing.
5) Be paranoid about waste
Margins have become razor thin. Revenue performance management and marketing automation now allow you to measure the contribution of marketing to generating leads and revenues. It is now possible to calculate the cost of each lead, and to bring it down as needed. The C-Suite is becoming aware that the cost of marketing is now becoming transparent. If this has not happened already, prepare to explain what marketing spends for each lead, and how it will cut these costs and track progress.
6) Get ready for marketing disruption, and for mandatory marketing innovation
Industries that were stable or changed at glacier speed are now being disrupted, whether it is by technology, globalization, the global economic morosity or changing buyer behaviors. What looks like a great marketing plan today may be tomorrow’s obsolescence. Be ready to turn on a time, reinvent your strategy, formulate and implement new plans in a very short time. And while it is relatively easy to formulate plans, remember that these plans may call for initiatives that require new skills, knowledge and behaviors, which are a lot harder to acquire rapidly. While these are difficult times for marketers who like the status quo, these are exciting times for those with a keen affinity for calculated risk taking and adventure!
Have you encountered similar situations with B2B. How have you addressed these challenges? I would love to hear from you.
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